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Wood Duck Boxes in Maurepas and Manchac Swamps

by Sunny Boicourt

Louisiana is one of the most important states for wintering and migratory waterfowl. Each year, 10% of the funds collected for hunting licenses here are allocated to conservation efforts throughout North America in the breeding grounds of waterfowl which will later migrate through or winter here. The protection of these breeding grounds is essential for bird populations, which as you could imagine, waterfowl hunters would be particularly invested in.
Currently, there is a program specifically geared towards Wood Duck populations here in Southeastern Louisiana. With more than 11 million acres of important bird areas here, Our Wildlife and Fisheries department is committed to preserving and enhancing habitats for many bird species. Kayaking in the Manchac and Maurepas areas specifically, kayakers will notice the presence of bird boxes along the banks of the bayous. These boxes have been installed throughout Louisiana since 1990, hoping to provide adequate nesting habitats for a declining Wood Duck population. The boxes replace tree cavities that are needed for breeding and provide protection from predators such as snakes and raccoons. The Mississippi Flyway experienced a decline of numbers of wood ducks throughout the 20th century, where the destruction of bottomland hardwood forests depleted the breeding and wintering habitats of this species. By 1918, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act prohibited Wood Duck hunting nationwide due to its endangered status. With conservation efforts and subsequently increasing numbers, these birds are now the second most popular harvested ducks in the nation.
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